Searchers at work near leaning multi-storey hotel

7:31 am on 28 February 2011

Urban Search and Rescue teams say they are making good progress at the three main recovery sites, as well as near the Hotel Grand Chancellor.

A USAR spokesperson, Paul Baxter, says the Canterbury TV site is the most advanced, with New Zealand, Chinese and Japanese crews working alongside each other in what is now a delicate operation.

Mr Baxter says careful progress is being made at the Christchurch Cathedral site where crews are continuing to remove debris.

Teams returned to the cathedral on Saturday after an aftershock stopped recovery efforts there on Friday night.

Mr Baxter says a platform has been established at the Pyne Gould site so heavy lifting equipment can be used.

Crews there are being particularly cautious because of the risk of asbestos being present in the building.

Searches under way near hotel

Mr Baxter says engineers at the Grand Chancellor are still working out how to stabilise it, but teams have been able to begin searching the surrounding buildings.

A 90-metre cordon has been established around the hotel, which is on a lean and has been rotating on its foundations.

Concrete will be pumped into wooden boxing in the hotel foyer and supports will placed on the top of the concrete, which should stabilise the structure sufficiently to allow search and rescue efforts to proceed.

The work will be carried out by a contractor and overseen by Urban Search and Rescue in cooperation with the building's owner.

The last guests were removed from the hotel at about 11pm on Tuesday evening but the building - one of the city's tallest - did not start moving until the next day.

The Fire Service says there is no reason to believe anyone is in the hotel or the buildings surrounding it, but they will ensure it is vacant.

USAR teams are also working in the suburbs of New Brighton and Sumner.